The Reel podcast from the Los Angeles Times delivers smart, engaging conversations on the entertainment industry fresh from the people who know it best. From hidden gems to blockbusters and the biggest moments in show business, host Mark Olsen talks with actors, writers and directors as well as reporters and critics from the Times’ celebrated film and television teams. Hear the art in entertainment, each week on The Reel.
Back for its second season, HBO’s “Succession” wears its contempt for the billionaire class on its sleeve. Featuring an ensemble of entertainingly loathsome characters who backstab each other as they battle for power within a family-owned media empire, the Times TV editor says it's the show you need to watch this summer.
*** SPOILER ALERT*** Spoilers start at 15:08. With a title that suggests the opening of a child’s storybook, Quentin Tarantino revisits the Hollywood of 1969 and that summer night 50 years ago when members of the Manson family set out for Benedict Canyon with murder in their hearts. Deep spoilers involving the end of the film start at 15:08. Come back and listen to our writers’ analysis once you’ve seen "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood."
When filmmaker Lulu Wang pitched 'The Farewell,' the semi-autobiographical story of her family’s efforts to keep her grandmother from learning of her Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, studio executives pushed for a white love interest, and a Chinese version of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ But Wang stuck to her vision, and refused to resort to a predictable storyline. Will this tale of an American immigrant family be the indie hit for the summer of 2019?
With Amazon Prime’s 'Too Old to Die Young,' director Nicolas Winding Refn brings his arthouse sensibility to streaming television to experiment with pacing, narrative and character development. Refn joins us from Copenhagen to discuss his vision and why he loves to set his stories in Los Angeles.
Michael Mann’s 1995 'Heat' has become the definitive LA crime film, but probably no one has done more lately to celebrate the epic tale of cops and robbers than Australian movie critic Blake Howard — his podcast, One Heat Minute, is a broad affirmation of why we love cinematic culture.
Parents are sure to be triggered by the copious amounts of sex, drugs and smartphone mischief in HBO's Euphoria, while on a lighter note, super fans of Younger are overjoyed by the return of the TV Land favorite.
The resistance is storming TV with shows like The Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies, while underrepresented communities are challenging the rules of the casting game to gain increasing visibility on the screen.
The end of so many beloved and long-running TV series is leaving a hole in our hearts, disrupting our viewing patterns and forcing us to find new and different television companions to fill their place.
The summer of Manson is upon us. Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the mass murder masterminded by Charles Manson, a wave of content is coming our way.
The grisly slayings of eight people — including the very pregnant Sharon Tate — cast a long shadow over the romantic adventure of the 60s counterculture, fascinating and haunting us to this day.
Out now in theaters is CHARLIE SAYS, the second of a trio of Manson family films this year. Rather than focus on the violence, CHARLIE SAYS is a sensitive, psychological portrait of three of Charlie’s girls -- as they descend into the madness of Manson’s world, and with the help of a grad student, go through a deprogramming process in prison.
LA Times film writer Mark Olsen ( @IndieFocus) talks with the movie’s director Mary Harron and writer @turnerguinevere, the filmmakers behind AMERICAN PSYCHO. Harron and Turner discuss their efforts to capture the domestic abuse and manipulation within the Manson family, along with the sexism of their freewheeling commune life.
But first, Olsen chats with critic and self-described Manson head @katiewalshstx , who calls CHARLIE SAYS a deeply feminist film that captures the toxic masculinity and sexual manipulation practiced by Charles Manson.
Women love true crime, but they’re also fed up with maneuvering the male-dominated workplace, being underestimated and checking their emotions at the door.
Enter KILLING EVE, the right show for the right time.
Featuring a fearless, high-fashion assassin and the astute MI6 agent pursuing her, the psychosexual thriller — made by women and starring women — unapologetically exudes femininity from head to toe.
The series has found its audience and is on a roll by playing into the emotions of the cultural moment. Host Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) checks in with Times television team members @LorraineAli and @villarealy halfway through the second season.
Later on, horror filmmaker @rox_anne-b makes her feature directing debut with BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK. Olsen talks with her about the glories — and risks — of filming in the great outdoors and keeping genre fans surprised.
Let's listen in.
SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers start at 18:10!
Eleven years, 22 films, $18 billion and counting at the global box office: Avengers: Endgame is finally in theaters, bringing to a close a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s been a big emotional investment for fans, and judging by the reaction of some of its stars, it’s been one for the actors as well.
Meanwhile, over the course of the franchise, MCU’s longform storytelling has redefined Hollywood.
Fans have had a lengthy relationship with these characters. Are they ready for the endgame?
Today’s episode is in two parts: The first is spoiler-free, but that is followed by a section for people who have seen the film. So listen for the cues and come back to take it all in, both before and after your trip to the theater. There’s a lot to process.
Let’s listen in.
SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers start at 18:10!
HBO may not have known it had a hit on its hands in 2011, but the premiere of the final season of GAME OF THRONES shattered ratings records for the network.
Viewing of the series has reached a fever pitch and blown up Twitter, while fans divine clues over who will live, who will die, and who will win the Iron Throne.
LA Times film writer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus ) is joined by @marymacTV @tracycbrown and @MeredithBlake to ponder deep cuts and the series' role in the history of modern television.
When was the last time the public had to say goodbye to a show long before growing tired of it?
When the movie HEATHERS was shown at the 1989 US Film Festival, now known as Sundance, the Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson wrote: “No amount of production sheen or acting skill seems excuse enough for the film's scabrous morality or its unprincipled viciousness.”
In The New Yorker, Pauline Kael wrote the script for the black comedy “promises that the picture will lift off into the junior division of Blue Velvetland. But layers of didacticism weigh it down.”
But HEATHERS has survived the test of time to become a cult sensation, and is now being celebrated on the 30th anniversary of its theatrical release.
With its big hair and big shoulder pads, the film took on the nasty high school caste system in a way that was ahead of its time. HEATHERS turned the common cruelty of most teen films of that era on its head. In a conversation with LA Times film writer Mark Olsen, (@IndieFocus ) the movie’s writer, director and one of its Heathers explain that the film was designed as an antidote to John Hughes movies.
And later, Fosse/Verdon fans don’t want to miss Olsen's talk with Steven Levenson, the Tony-winning writer of Dear Evan Hanson, and a writer and executive producer of the miniseries on FX.
The master himself, Stephen King, has said PET SEMATARY “is a scary movie. Be warned.”
It explores grief, emotion, guilt and love. You could say it’s a family film -- in a terrifying, don’t bring your little ones kind of way.
LA Times film writer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) is joined by one of PET SEMATARY’s stars -- actress and filmmaker Amy Seimetz -- who talks about elevating a horror picture to an art film, creating female characters typically not seen on screen, and finding your own people in the indie film world.
Then, fans of iconic Broadway and the movie musical: We have your number. Olsen talks to Andy Blankenbuehler, the choreographer of Hamilton, who also choreographed Fosse/Verdon, the new FX miniseries that chronicles the creative and romantic partnership between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.
Six years after SPRING BREAKERS, Harmony Korine is back with a new film, THE BEACH BUM, out now in theaters. The wildly creative filmmaker and fine artist is a teller of modern-day tall tales, something of a cross between a burnout Mark Twain and an Andy Warhol of the Florida Keys. Korine talks with LA Times film writer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) about how he’s skirting autobiography in his work, the casting choices he made for The Beach Bum -- like Matthew McConaughey, Martin Lawrence, Snoop Dog and Jimmy Buffett -- and how he feels about being a perennial Hollywood outsider.
But first, The Times Yvonne Villarreal (@villarrealy) spoke with the showrunners for the recently canceled Netflix show, ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Emotions -- and opinions were strong. Is diversity and inclusiveness really happening in Hollywood? Does the cancellation signal that the American Latinx experience is almost being erased from the airwaves?
What happens when a show is more than just a show?
The much anticipated follow-up to Jordan Peele’s GET OUT is out now in theaters. And Peele delivers the film he set out to make- one that scares people's pants off. In the process, he has reclaimed the art of the horror genre.
LA Times film writer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus ) talks with Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) and Jen Yamato (@jenyamato ) about how US is in some ways a political film about contemporary America. But it's also a horror flick with a black family at its center, instead of the conventional white one.
The Los Angeles Times is in Austin for South by Southwest, the the annual festival of film, music, technology, art, culture, tacos, barbecue, partying - and something of a laboratory think tank for the future.
Times film writer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) talks with @marcmaron, who's expanding his wings as a movie actor, along with director @lynnsheltonfilm, who saw him as a star. Olsen also interviews @alexgibneyfilm, whose documentary about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, THE INVENTOR: OUT FOR BLOOD IN SILICON VALLEY, is set to debut on HBO.
And in a preview of next week's episode, Austin native Ethan Hawke shares his affection for SXSW, and says "its DNA is a little more punk rock than any other festival in America."
With its first female-led installment in the Marvel Studio franchise, most people are asking what took so long? But in one corner of the Internet, CAPTAIN MARVEL is a bridge too far, especially for those angered by star Brie Larson's progressive calls for diversity and inclusivity. LA Times film writer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) is joined by Kenneth Turan (@KennethTuran), Jen Yamato (@jenyamato), Justin Chang (@JustinCChang), Tracy Brown (@tracycbrown) and Sonaiya Kelley (@sonaiyak ) to discuss the politics surrounding CAPTAIN MARVEL and the merits of the film itself -- its indie directors, its '90s nostalgia and its cast, including Reggie, the cat thespian.
Despite what's been called a "despicable" Best Picture win, L.A. Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) talks with Justin Chang (@JustinCChang), Mary McNamara (@marymacTV) and Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp) about how real change may have arrived at the Academy. Plus, Jen Yamato (@jenyamato) and Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) get their Gaga fix on, and share the scoop on what was going on off-camera at the Academy Awards.
On this week’s episode of The Reel, L.A. Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) previews the 2019 Academy Awards with Justin Chang (@JustinCChang), Mary McNamara (@marymacTV) and Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp). They discuss their favorite films of the year and explore some of the possible outcomes in this year's top award categories.
On this week’s episode of The Reel, L.A. Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) is joined by Director Spike Lee and two of his longtime collaborators, composer Terence Blanchard and editor Barry Alexander Brown. They discuss the success of their latest, “BlacKkKlansman” and the lasting impact of the film.
On this week’s episode of The Reel, L.A. Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) was joined by Director Steven Soderbergh, to talk about his new film “High Flying Bird,” which premiered at Slamdance Film Festival last month. The Oscar-winning filmmaker takes us inside his movie-making process, including what it's like shooting a movie entirely on a smartphone.
On this week’s episode of The Reel, L.A. Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) was live in Park City, Utah for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. After watching many of this year's movies and documentaries, he sat down with Justin Chang (@JustinCChang), Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA), Kenneth Turan (@KennethTuran) and Jen Yamato (@jenyamato) to discuss the best films they saw and why.
On this week’s episode of The Reel, L.A. Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) sits down with Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp) and Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) to take an early look at the 2019 Oscar nominations. They discuss key takeaways from the nominated films, including an increase in internationally focused nominations and the significance behind the “best director” category.
On this week’s episode of The Reel, LA Times feature writer and reviewer Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) sits down with Meredith Blake (@MeredithBlake), Robert Lloyd (@LATimesTVLloyd), and Yvonne Villarreal (@villarrealy) to discuss HBO’s latest season of 'True Detective' starring Mahershala Ali. They also reflect back on David Chase's HBO series ‘The Sopranos’ 20 years after its premiere.
This week Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) leads a discussion about the importance of last week's Golden Globes and how they might shine a light on what we can expect from the Oscars as we start to wrap up awards season.
This week Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) talks to reporter Carolina Miranda (@cmonstah) after she and director Alfonso Cuarón walked through the streets of the Mexico City neighborhood where he shot his film Roma.
Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) and TV writers Yvonne Villarreal (@villarrealy), Lorraine Ali (@LorraineAli) and Robert Lloyd (@LATimesTVLLoyd) break down whether 2018 was a good year for TV. They talk about Barry, Killing Eve, and more as they make their assessment about whether we've gone beyond the "peak TV" era.
Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) and film critics Kenneth Turan (@KennethTuran) and Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) break down their favorite movies of 2018, including Vox Lux, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Black Panther. Sifting through the big studio blockbusters, independent films, foreign-language films, and documentaries their recommendations will add to your list of the "must watch" movies of the year.
This week LA Times music reporters Gerrick Kennedy (@GerrickKennedy), Mikael Wood (@mikaelwood), and Randy Lewis (@RandyLewis2) join Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) to discuss the intermingling of music and film. First, the group focuses on capturing live performance on film, as seen in the new Springsteen on Broadway special on Netflix and the archival the Aretha Franklin documentary, Amazing Grace. Then, the group discusses the act of music creation and recording on film, with A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book as the main examples.
This week Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) leads a conversation breaking down the Golden Globe nominations and what they mean for the awards season landscape. We discuss the controversial nominee Green Book, how Black Panther earned Marvel Studios it's first nomination, the crowd-pleasing results from the Globe's distinct drama and comedy categories, and what we might expect from the unusual host pairing of Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh. Mark is joined by Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp), Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) and Ashley Lee (@cashleelee).
This week, host Mark Olsen (@indiefocus) hands the mic to reporter Yvonne Villarreal (@villarrealy) as she interviews Alex Cunningham, the show-runner of Bravo's new TV series Dirty John. Based on the L.A. Times podcast by the same name, the show further explores the complicated and manipulative relationship between Debra Newell and John Meehan. Cunningham breaks down the show's casting choices, how the the series gives Debra a stronger voice and what fans of the podcast might expect to see on the TV adaptation.
Focusing this week on the music business, Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) sits down with music reporter Randy Lewis (@RandyLewis2), pop music critic Mikael Wood (@mikaelwood) and Times television critic and former music editor Lorraine Ali (@LorraineAli) to discuss the recent releases of Bob Dylan's "More Blood, More Tracks," which features unreleased takes from the session for his 1975 album "Blood on the Tracks," and the 50th anniversary remastered release The Beatles' "The White Album" with unheard demos and session tracks. What do these two pillars of the classic rock era still have to say to the modern ears of current audiences, and how does the contemporary music industry treat their legacy artists?
This week our team breaks down what to expect next year at the Academy Awards and which movies have already started to make a splash. Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) is joined by Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp) and Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) to break down Marvel's history at the Oscars and Black Panther's potential for success, Netflix's drama Roma, and which movies have passed Amy's "cry test" this year.
This week, Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) sits down with critics Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) and Kenneth Turan (@KennethTuran) to discuss the demise of FilmStruck, how streaming services like Netflix have impacted the types of classical films that were once available on FilmStruck, and, specifically, a brand new Orson Welles film now on Netflix that is one of Hollywood's most famous unfinished projects.
There are mixed feelings about all of the topics, and the conversation foreshadows what may happen to films like Orson Welles' Other Side of the Wind.
This week, host Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) interviews Luca Guadagnino, the director of the remade film Suspiria and also recently known for directing the award-winning movie, Call Me By Your Name. Guadagnino talks, among many other things, about the inspirations for his remake, his friendship with Tilda Swinton and her three roles in the film, and what the movie is actually about.
It's Halloween time, and to celebrate the occasion our team of reporters dives deep into some recent horror hits in film and television. Film critic Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) and reporters Libby Hill (@midwestspitfire) and Jen Yamato (@JenYamato) join host Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) to discuss the newest Halloween sequel as well as the remake of cult classic Suspiria and the new Netflix horror show Haunting of Hill House.
This week, the L.A. Times team is joined by Joy Press, a former LAT staffer and writer of Stealing the Show: How Women Are Transforming Television, to discuss two recent TV reboots: The Conners and Murphy Brown. The group discusses how ABC dealt with Roseanne leaving her namesake show, the big reveal at the start of The Conners, and how Murphy Brown is faring in comparison.
Film critic Kenneth Turan (@KennethTuran) and reporters Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) and Jen Yamato (@JenYamato) join host Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) to discuss the new hit movie, A Star is Born. They talk all about Bradley Cooper's directing debut, how the movie compares to previous iterations, and Lady Gaga's performance.
On the heels of producer Suge Knight's murder trial, LA Times reporters James Queally (@JamesQueallyLAT), Marisa Gerber (@marisagerber), and Gerrick Kennedy (@GerrickKennedy) join Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) for a deep dive discussion about his life, the trial proceedings, and particularly how the proceedings reflect his impact on the music industry.
Numerous recent movies have been charged by an immediacy of anxiety, as many of the same feelings from the world-at-large have made their way onto our movie screens with an alarming speed and connection. Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) is joined by Times film reporters Jen Yamato (@JenYamato) and Tre'vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) and film critic Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) to talk about his current phenomenon and what we expect from our movies, what they can do to inform, explain or even distract us, taking in a broad range of titles from "Monsters and Men," "Fahrenheit 11/9," "Assassination Nation," "The Lie," "Suspiria" and others to get some sense of our Cinematic Now.
This week, we're recapping everything that happened at the Emmys. Reporter Yvonne Villarreal (@villarrealy) and TV critics Lorraine Ali (@LorraineAli) and Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp) join host Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) to break down the surprises and disappointments, the performances of this year's hosts, and the unexpected visit from Teddy Perkins.
The Reel is at Toronto International Film Festival!
Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) breaks down the last few days at the film festival with reporters Tre'vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) and Jen Yamato (@Jen Yamato) and film critic Justin Chang (@JustinCChang). Hear about the festival's new diversity initiatives and this year's biggest films.
Our team breaks down what they think will be the best fall movies this year. Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus), Tre'vell Anderson (@TrevellAnderson) and Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) pick their favorites and talk about memorable interviews they've had with the stars--including Lady Gaga.
In this week's episode, Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) starts off leading a discussion about this year's Emmys contenders with Lorraine Ali (@LorraineAli) and Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp). Then, hear Yvonne Villarreal (@villarrealy) interview The Crown's Matt Smith on the show's last two seasons and how he feels about the United States' fascination with the royal family.